“Camp made me the resilient, compassionate and optimistic leader that I never expected to develop into.”

Camp Fire is a national organization devoted to helping youth develop responsibility, realize individual potential and identity, and “find their spark.” Camp Fire Inland Northwest runs 20 year-round clubs and two summer camps, giving youth between ages 3 and 18 the opportunity for fellowship and personal growth.

A $10,000 Community Strategies grant from Innovia Foundation is helping Camp Fire INW close the opportunity gap that prevents low-income children and children of color from attending summer camp. Camp Fire is partnering with the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center and West Central Community Center to bring disadvantaged children to summer programs at Camp Dart-Lo on the Little Spokane River.

The camp is rustic and forested, offering an “unplugged” experience that blends youth development activities with environmental education and the chance to connect with nature. Camp Fire’s community partnership model integrates staff from partner organizations with seasonal camp staff, resulting in a set of mentors capable of guiding children in both outdoor skills – such as swimming, archery and open-fire cooking – and personal growth toward becoming caring and self-directed.

“My years at camp prepared me for service in ways that I hadn’t expected,” said a former Camp Fire camper who is now serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. “My camp experience taught me to take risks and get outside of my comfort zone… Camp made me the resilient, compassionate and optimistic leader that I never expected to develop into. I’m eager to continue to be surprised by camp’s influence throughout my service.”

"My camp experience taught me to take risks and get outside of my comfort zone." Former Camp Fire camper